High Hopes

Chapter 7

Monday morning dawned all too early, all too brightly and all too cold.

Sam was roused roughly by his bunk mate, Ritchie, who informed him rather too enthusiastically that it was time for breakfast, and that Hank was expecting them to be ready for practice in an hour.

Sam rose reluctantly. He hadn't slept well, and the morning had rolled round all too soon. He stretched, trying to ease the kinks in his back.

"How's the wrist?" Ritchie nodded toward Sam's still bandaged hand, making him remember the previous day's ruse, and his reason for perpetrating it. Practice in an hour was an alarming prospect.

"Uh, a bit sore." Sam replied, shrugging with mock stoicism.

Having skipped dinner the previous night, it was the rumbling in his stomach that finally provided the impetus to get him going, dragging himself to the bathroom for his morning ablutions.

While the rest of the group chatted excitedly about the possibility of a full day on the slopes, and bustled around getting themselves ready, and made comments on the relative merits of the pretty girls they had met from other teams, Sam concentrated on making hard work of getting dressed, exaggerating his 'disability' whilst trying to look like he was putting a brave face on a painful injury.

His act was very convincing. As with Hank, he had to decline the offer of assistance in changing, assuring his friends that though it may take him a little longer than usual, he hadn't needed help dressing himself since he was two years old, and wasn't about to start being babied again now.

"You sure, pal?" a boy whom Sam had learned was called Tommy asked him jovially, clapping him heartily on the back, "I can go and get Becky-Lou for you if you'd like. Maybe she'd have fun dressing up her 'dreamboat'!"

This comment, made in a suitably mocking tone - with exaggerated fluttering of eyelids - elicited hoots of laughter from B-J's buddies. Sam colored, then threw his pillow one handed at his tormentor, and exhorted the group to "get outa here and give a guy some room to move!" laughing with them in the spirit in which the tease had been intended.

Thankfully, they obliged, leaving Sam to finish dressing, and to confer with a recently arrived Observer, to whit one Admiral Albert Calavicci.

"How's Becky?" demanded the Leaper curtly, as soon as he was free to speak openly.

Concern for her well-being had been a contributing factor to his restless night. After Al had left, and he had answered countless questions from his team-mates, whom Tammy had rounded up into a posse, Sam had finally sunk exhausted into his bed and lay there reviewing the day's events. At first relieved that he had successfully saved the young girl's life; Sam suddenly realized that according to Al's foretelling of the original history, her life had not been in danger before his altercation with her. Though he had acted in good faith, and could not possibly have predicted how Becky-Lou was going to over-react to his little tumble and his attempt at reassurance, he still felt bad for having put her life in danger. Had she died, he would never have forgiven himself.

"Relax, Sam, she's fine." Al reassured him, not needing to be told that Sam's worry and guilty conscience had kept him awake. He could read it in the lines round the leaper's tired eyes.

Sam looked at his partner, searching his face for any sign of deception or false reassurance; his expression asking 'you're sure?'

"Zig says to make sure she isn't late for breakfast, but other than that, her physical prognosis is excellent, pal. Honest."

Sam's shoulders visibly shed their tension.

"That just leaves how to get her skiing again, when I haven't a clue how to ski myself!" Mused the time-traveler as he gathered his things and set off to escort Becky-Lou to breakfast.

"I'll see if B-J has any ideas on that score for you, pal." Al promised as he disappeared.

Becky-Lou greeted Sam warmly, or rather exuberantly. She had obviously slept a whole lot better than he had, and was bright eyed and bushy tailed as she bounded out to hug him tight.

"Oh, Bobby-Joe isn't it a beautiful morning?" she enthused.

"All the more beautiful now I see your smiling face!" He responded, partly saying what he felt his host would say, partly expressing his relief that she seemed none the worse for her close call.

She flushed slightly at the compliment, and looked up at him shyly. The way she looked at him told Sam that despite the warmth of her greeting, something from yesterday still hung between them. Though she seemed to have restored him to hero status last night, their relationship was not quite back on track.

Sam wasn't sure what she expected from him. B-J obviously knew her moods and her quirks far better than he could hope to. She had a tendency to over-react; he'd seen that up close and personal, so he would have to make sure he trod carefully and watched what he said.

He hated having to tread on eggshells so as not to make things worse, and he decided to try something that may help him to negotiate the twists and turns of their path to true love.

"Listen, Becky, I feel really bad about last night," he was telling the truth thus far, "and I gotta say that of my favorite things to do, arguing with you comes about 574th on my list."

Becky-Lou laughed at him for that, as he hoped she would, even as he wondered privately if he could be sued for breach of copyright, or plagiarism, or whatever, when he was quoting Vila some 20 years or more before Michael Keating spoke the line in the Blake's 7 episode 'City at the Edge of the World'. Come to think of it, he could use his unique position to start a few law suits of his own, if only he weren't too honorable, and quite frankly too busy, to pursue the matter. The idea would probably amuse Al, though, and Sam resolved to tease him about it at the next opportune moment.

"Don't let's ever fight like that again." Becky suggested, and Sam hoped they wouldn't.

"A fresh start." He agreed, which was precisely where he had been leading. Sam gave her his most disarming smile. "Tell you what, let's play a little game."

"Oooh, I love games," she grinned back at him, playing right into his strategy.

"Let's pretend we've only just met," backing up a little, he turned to face her square on, and held out his hand, "Hello, my name is Robert Joseph Parnell, pleased to meet you…?"

"Rebecca-Louise," she supplied, taking his hand and shaking it warmly, her bunches bobbing as she tossed her head with glee, "Carter; but you can call me Becky-Lou."

"And my friends all call me B-J," Sam retorted, "I hope I shall soon be able to count you one of them!" Becky gave him a playful punch on the arm, "Count on it, B-J!" she giggled, and stood on tiptoe to give him a swift peck on the cheek.

"Now, steady on, young lady!" Sam protested, "We've only just met, I hardly know you! What will people say?"

"Oh, B-J! You are funny!" Becky-Lou gave him another little punch, and Sam hoped it wouldn't become a habit. He seemed to remember another leap into a teenager where people kept doing that to him, and it had soon become a sore point, in more than one sense of the phrase.

Sam crooked his elbow, and inclined his head to suggest that she should take his arm, "Might I accompany you to breakfast, so that I may get to know you better over a pleasant meal?" He kept his demeanor very formal and upright.

She slipped her arm in his, and looked up at him:

"Certainly, kind sir," she smiled, her eyes twinkling as they headed off down the corridor.

Sam smiled a trifle smugly. Now, if he put his foot in it and said the wrong thing, he had the perfect get out clause – I'm so sorry, I didn't realize, we've only known each other a few… minutes, hours, whatever. It was a good ruse to cover the gaps in his knowledge when he supplanted another in their lives. He hoped he could remember to use it again if the situation permitted, but suspected that once he leaped, his Swiss cheese memory would rob him of the advantage.

For the moment, though, it was working like a charm, and Becky-Lou was putty in his hands, telling him lots of trivial things that could well prove invaluable.

Breakfast was nearly over when things started getting hairy again.

The rest of the Beersheba Springs group had chatted at their separate table just as carefree as before, and now got up; exhorting the pair in passing to get their tails on up to the practice slopes before Hank had THEM for breakfast.

Sam held up his bandaged hand, and said that he didn't think it'd stand the strain of wielding a ski pole, but he rose to accompany his 'new friend' to her practice, saying that he looked forward to watching Becky-Lou, as he'd heard she was rather good.

For an anxious moment, Sam thought she was about to go for an encore and rush off in a fit of histrionics. Her whole expression darkened, and she glared daggers at him.

Taking a deep breath, and praying he didn't make matters worse, he took her lightly by the hand and enquired of her gently what was wrong.

Something in his tone must have calmed her, for she took a deep breath, and told him that nothing was the matter, she simply didn't feel up to the exertion either, following her malady of the previous evening.

Sam relented, seeing the partial truth of her excuse.

He knew that there had to be more to it, though, for Al had told him she hung up her skis in the original history, and that time round there had been no hypoglycemia in the equation.

However, he decided this was neither the time nor the place to challenge her on the matter. He still had a lot more trust winning to do before he could safely broach that subject.

Sam just hoped that Hank would be as understanding of her 'playing hooky', and when he said words to that very effect; Becky-Lou looked worried, and then prevailed upon her B-J to somehow get her off the hook.

"B-J" had been very convincing with the Coach, and Hank had agreed that the young man should see to it that Becky-Lou took it easy today, so that she was properly rested and ready for action the next day.

She had looked sour at that, but quickly banished the expression from her face – she would worry about tomorrow when it came.

And so Sam and Becky-Lou spent a pleasant day 'getting to know each other', going for walks in the pine groves, wandering through the Lodges, sitting in the sunshine or by the fireside, chatting amicably, laughing and generally behaving like a couple of teenagers enjoying each other's company.

Sam found that when she wasn't being a drama queen, Becky-Lou was smart and witty and remarkably fun to be with. He could tell that she and B-J were a perfect match for each other, and would make a lovely couple. He was her anchor, and kept her from letting her emotions run riot. She helped him make sure he retained his inner child. There was the distinct possibility of a happy ever after here – if only he could get her to open up and face whatever it was that was making her throw away her career.

Al popped in mid-afternoon, looking strained. He confirmed Sam's hunch that B-J had married Becky-Lou in the original history, and that he had helped her weather the storms of her regrets and disappointments, but that both had felt the cloud of her unfulfilled dreams hanging over them as they muddled their way through a humdrum life.

Sam determined that he would find some way to make sure Becky-Lou reached her true potential. As yet, he had no clue as to how he might achieve this goal, and any attempt or hint to try and get Becky onto the subject met with a distinct chilling of the atmosphere between them.

Little did he know that the atmosphere would get a whole lot frostier before things could finally be resolved.

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